Taste of success: How to fuel recovery at the elite level

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Peepo
Getty | Peepo

Related tags Sports nutrition recovery SANSE

Providing elite athletes with the nutrition 'edge' is not always about the counting of macros or the science behind ingredients, but it's sometimes as simple as making products and meals delicious, according to a leading health & performance nutritionist.

As the Head of Performance Nutrition at English Institute of Sport, Mike Naylor has more than 15 years in Elite sport nutrition under his belt and he is set to provide his exceptional insights at NutraIngredients' Sports & Active Nutrition Summit next week.

Fresh from a summer of major tournaments, Naylor has been a consultant for England Rugby and Football as well as the Olympics for the last three cycles.

In an interview for NI's annual summit, Naylor is set to describe why recovery-focused nutrition is so important for athletes in these spaces.

“In a lot of these tournaments, the turn around of games is really fast. In the women’s World Cup the turn around was four days which is incredibly fast," ​he will tell attendees. "In football, the turn arounds are similar, and not only that but the games get harder as you get to the latter stages of the tournament so the importance of recovery is massive and that’s why we put so much effort into planning recovery-focused nutrition.”

Put simply, he says his recovery strategy is always based on three key pillars – fuelling recovery, general wellness, and salvaging from injuries.

When it comes to fuelling recovery, carbs are the crucial macronutrient for the two days leading up to tournament. He says much of the difficulty here is not around knowing the numbers behind how many carbs each athlete should consume, but it’s around the logistics of getting these carbs to them and educating them so they will be on board with what's being provided.

Speaking about so-called ‘carb phobe’ athletes, he will tell the summit's audience: “We haven’t seen as much of this in the last two to three years but before that there was definitely a period where athletes were concentrating more on their body composition than on fuelling for performance.”

He will go into further detail to explain the three phases of recovery in the few hours after play – with a snack or shake in the changing room, a chef-made meal on the coach, and another meal at the hotel. Each of those phases will provide 70-90 grams of carbs and at least 20-30 grams of protein.

“The edge isn’t in the numbers but it’s in the delivery – it’s having a magnificent chef that makes this food taste unbelievable, or creating shakes with low fat ice cream to make them taste incredible while also upping the carbs.”

Naylor will discuss a wide range of supplements that he incorporates into his recovery strategy, including cherry juice for muscle recovery.

“How much difference these make at an elite athlete level, considering what the athletes are getting elsewhere in their nutrition plan, I don’t know but they’ve been really popular and the players feel it’s working for them.”

The virtual Sports and Active Nutrition Summit will take place over three days from next Tuesday-Thursday (October 12-14).

The event will consist of two sessions each day - 10.30am to 12.30 CET (9.30am to 11.30 BST) followed by 3pm to 5pm CET (2pm to 4pm BST). Take a look at the agenda​ and check out how you can register​.

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